School Attendance

Adopted March 2010 – Reaffirmed November 2014 – Community Concerns Commission

The California State PTA recognizes that there are many factors that affect student achievement, including school attendance and absences.  Research has shown that chronic absenteeism, encompassing both excused and unexcused absences, correlates highly with lower student achievement and dropout.

California’s long-term student data system does not include attendance data. Although schools track student attendance to receive average daily attendance funding from the state, there is not data at the state level to allow analysis of individual student school attendance.

California monitors unexcused absences (truancy) and addresses these problems through the School Attendance Review Board process at the local level. The California State PTA represents parents on the State School Attendance Review Board, which is the body that adopts model standards for school attendance review boards, recognizes local boards that operate model programs, and makes recommendations to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction on issues affecting school attendance and truancy.

Current laws already mandate the following provisions:

  • School attendance compulsory at age 6;
  • Schools are required to take roll every day and every period for older students; and
  • California school districts monitor truancy and takes action via school attendance review boards and school attendance review teams (SARB and SART)

The California State PTA will support legislative and executive efforts that would do the following to address chronic absence and improve school attendance:

A) Establish reducing chronic absence a policy priority that is broadly communicated.

B) Support the development of early warning systems that help school districts to identify and intervene, at the earliest age possible, when young children are at risk of academic failure, based upon data on chronic absence, academic achievement and classroom behavior.

C) Ensure absenteeism/attendance (total number of days absent and total days enrolled over the course of the academic year) is added as a field to state and local longitudinal student databases.

D) For districts that enter attendance by individual student, create incentives for districts to provide the data by offering resources (technical assistance and modest grants) to help districts:

  1. Analyze their own attendance data to identify schools and populations where chronic absence is a problem.
  2. Assist underperforming schools to longitudinally examine levels of chronic absence for the school, as whole, for each grade, subgroup and student, and develop strategies for how they can address the issue in their school improvement plans.
  3. Identify common district wide barriers to school attendance and develop strategies for addressing chronic absence in the schools with the highest levels of chronic absence through school policies, student support services, school-community partnerships or other interventions as needed.

E) Provide professional development to teachers, school administrators, and school boards to familiarize them with early warning signs of drop-out including chronic absence, grades, behavior, as well as best practices for intervening at the individual, classroom, school and community level.

F) Build on SARB process to identify chronically absent, not just truant students, and to examine district-wide chronic absence trends, challenges, and potential solutions.

G) Encourage all schools to establish attendance teams charged with reviewing data regularly and taking action and identify community resources to support attendance, as needed.

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